On Opening Day 2010, the Royals employed an outfield of Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus. Apparently realizing that it wasn't exactly a star-studded group, they traded away all three over the past year- Podsednik and Ankiel during the 2010 season, and DeJesus early in this offseason.
Coming off the DeJesus trade, you had to imagine that the Royals would seek out some new options to supplement the young guys already in the organization. Channeling his inner Jim Bowden, Dayton Moore went out and acquired a bevy of outfielders that range from intriguing to "this guy kinda sucks, yeah?"
Jeff Francoeur, Lorenzo Cain, Melky Cabrera and Brett Carroll were all brought in over the past couple months to join Alex Gordon, Mitch Maier, Gregor Blanco, Jarrod Dyson and David Lough as potential outfield options for the 2011 club. So how exactly are the Royals going to divvy up the playing time?
Let's make a few assumptions here. Cabrera and Francoeur both signed one-year MLB deals, so they're highly likely to be among the five outfielders that Kansas City employs going into next season. Gordon just agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million contract and Lorenzo Cain was a key part of the Zack Greinke deal, so I think it's fair to assume that they're starting next season in Kansas City as well.
Given that those four are pretty much locks to make the team, here's how I would suggest that the Royals let their outfield play out for next season. I think it's entirely fair to argue that Cain and Gordon absolutely have to play everyday. They're really the only options here that have legitimate upside, and given Kansas City's place on the win spectrum they should really be prioritizing potential.
That leaves us to fill out right field, and here's my suggestion: a platoon of Francoeur and Blanco. I know it doesn't exactly sound like a bucket of fun, but I do think that together they could provide some production from that spot. Francoeur's hit .299/.343/.481 against lefties in his career, while Blanco's hit .272/.371/.343 against right-handers in 634 plate appearances. These guys are pretty different players: Blanco's value lies in on-base skills and speed, while Francoeur's is based in hitting ability and good power. But given the array of options that the Royals have, this does seem to be the best way to utilize them at the moment.
Maybe the Royals will realize that giving playing time to Lough or Dyson over Cabrera makes an infinite amount of sense, but until that happens I think that we just need to hope that Francoeur is limited to platoon duties and Cabrera's limited to hardly playing at all. And if Cabrera and Francoeur are taking playing time away from Cain and Gordon, then, well, you're granted the right to get pretty pissed.